Do the Denver Broncos Have What It Takes to Go 16-0?
The obvious answer is yes, as long as quarterback Peyton Manning is healthy. Manning set an NFL record throwing 12 touchdowns through the first three games of the season and is playing arguably the best football of his storied career. The Broncos are averaging over 42 points per game so far in 2013, and Manning is leading the charge.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Broncos will get back linebacker Von Miller in three weeks, after he finishes serving a six-game suspension. Miller brings tremendous pass-rushing ability to the Broncos, who will have plenty of opportunity to get after the quarterback.
However if the Broncos want to go undefeated, it will take more than Manning playing at an MVP level and Miller getting after the quarterback. The Broncos will also need to stay healthy and rely on other teams in the AFC to keep pace down the stretch.
Protecting Peyton Manning’s blindside is the most important job in football. And earlier this year, the Broncos lost Pro Bowl left tackle Ryan Clady for the year with a broken foot. Clady allowed just one sack the entire 2012 season and is one of the best tackles in the NFL. The Broncos have turned to left tackle Chris Clark who they have a lot of confidence in to protect Manning.
On the Broncos quest for 16-0, they cannot afford any more injuries to big names on the roster. If wide receiver’s Wes Welker, Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas can all stay healthy, Denver has the most prolific offense in the league. Through three games, the trio of wide receivers has combined for 58 catches, 749 yards and seven touchdowns.
Not only will Von Miller be returning to the Broncos defense in Week 7, the Broncos can expect cornerback Champ Bailey to make his 2013 season debut before then. Bailey is one of the best corners in the game and brings veteran leadership to a secondary that has already played extremely well this year.
Offensively the Broncos are stacked. They can put up points like no other team in the league but they must stay healthy. As is true with every team in the league, but if the Broncos want to reach perfection, health is the number one factor.
AFC Teams Must Keep Pace
We witnessed this with Peyton Manning in Indianapolis. The Colts were 14-0 and had already locked up home-field advantage. Resting their starters in the last two games the Colts finished 14-2 and failed to reach the Super Bowl.
While it is extremely early to know what would happen if the Broncos are 14-0, one way to make sure they play out the regular season is if another AFC team is challenging the Broncos for home field. The Patriots, Ravens, Bengals and Texans must have great seasons to prevent the Broncos from clinching until Week 17.
Right now Denver is the Super Bowl favorite. But only time will tell if they can hold up physically and if the rest of the league can keep up with the high-flying Broncos.
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